A man from Britain who endangered motorists’ lives by selling fake vehicle air bags has avoided jail.
Car parts dealer Robert Czernik was convicted of two counts of selling goods likely to be mistaken for a registered trademark after pleading guilty during a hearing at Inner London Crown Court on Monday.
The 36-year-old was arrested after carmaker Honda informed City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) that potentially deadly counterfeit airbags were being sold online.
Czernik, who escaped prison after being handed a suspended sentence and was ordered to carry out 135 hours of unpaid community work, was caught after investigators purchased two airbags that tests confirmed were fake from his eBay account.
During a search of Czernik’s home in February 2016, police discovered multiple counterfeit airbag parts and airbag covers supposedly manufactured by major motoring brands including Honda, Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Audi and Skoda.
Many of the brands whose products were faked expressed concern that the counterfeit products would not have conformed to industry standards, and would likely have been ineffective in the event they were deployed as a result of a road traffic accident.
Prosecutors said Czernik was selling the bogus items, which he imported into the UK from China and Poland, for significantly less than the genuine equivalent bags, which typically retail for more than £800 ($1,117) each.
Commenting after sentencing, Detective Sergeant Kevin Ives, of the PIPCU, said: “Czernik has put drivers at risk of serious injury and death by selling counterfeit airbags and covers. We have worked tirelessly for more than two years to ensure the successful prosecution of Czernik.
“In partnership with Honda and the Intellectual Property Office, and with the support of other car manufacturers, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has made sure that Czernik can no longer sell dangerous car parts. This investigation sends a strong message to anyone selling dangerous counterfeit goods that that they too could end up in Czernik’s position.
“The dangers of buying counterfeit goods should not be underestimated. With potentially shocking implications for public safety, it’s vital that you are extra careful and check where you are buying goods from.”
Dave Hodgetts, Managing Director of Honda Motor Europe’s UK subsidiary, said: “The safety of customers is of paramount importance, and we aim to eliminate counterfeiting.
“We strongly recommend any modification to the airbag systems of our cars be undertaken by a trained technician in an official dealership. If customers are concerned, they should visit their local dealership.”
“The UK has one of the best IP enforcement regimes in the world and will continue to pursue opportunistic criminals that seek out profit at the expense of consumer.”